The Lying Game

We are now being inundated with hosannas to Colin Powell’s UN speech as having “delivered the goods” and, supposedly, a knockout blow to the “give inspections a chance” crowd, but I don’t believe a word of it because, well, I can’t say it any better than my friend Jim Henley:

“Because they lie. Routinely and often and deliberately. They said there were 100,000 people in mass graves in Kosovo. That was a lie. They said Iraqi soldiers were tossing babies out of incubators. That was a lie. They said Iraqi troops in 1991 were massing on the Saudi border. That was a lie. They said Saddam’s attack on Kuwait was a total surprise. That was a lie. They said US troops had no combat role in Central America in the 1980s. That was a lie.”

Are we really supposed to believe that the U.S. captured, on tape, a conversation between two Iraqi military personnel that not only shows them trying to hide forbidden mobile units, but also describing it in detail? C’mon, guys, you can do better than that! And what about that murky “Al Ansar” group in “northern Iraq,” where terrorist cadres are supposedly training to poison New York City’s water supply, or something like that? This fairy tale might be convincing if only their alleged location wasn’t a region fully under the control of our allies, the Kurds, and easily reachable without invading that portion of Iraq still under Saddam’s control.

Most of what Powell had to say was refuted – the day before – by Hans Blix, but it wasn’t a European or even a worldwide audience that Powell was addressing, so that didn’t matter anyway. The Secretary of State’s real purpose was to convince Americans, who, in spite of the push-polls, are, at best, uneasy about the course the administration is taking. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a prominent voice raised in support of the war, recently noted:

“I’ve had a chance to travel all across the country since September, and I can say without hesitation there was not a single audience I spoke to where I felt there was a majority in favor of war in Iraq. The dominant mood is: ‘Mr. President, we don’t want to be against you in a war on terrorism. But do we really have to do this? My 401(k) is now a 201(k), heading for a 101(k). Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. The Europeans are uncovering new terrorist cells right and left. And I have walked through so many airport metal detectors in the last year that I now glow in the dark. I understand what the Afghan war was about and would have volunteered with a pitchfork – but I just don’t get this war.'”

The polls, too, are a lie: “I don’t care what the polls say,” opines Friedman, “this is the real mood.” Friedman wants the President and his advisors to “level” with the American people, who seem to think that this is going to be a cakewalk. Sure, this is about disarming Iraq – but it is also, he admits, about conquering Iraq, and, not only that, but about transforming the entire region into “a progressive model to spur reform – educational, religious, economic and political – around the Arab world.” Friedman thinks this “audacious” project is “worth the risk” – but wonders if the American people agree. He also wonders what they will think when they wake up, one day after our glorious “victory,” to discover that we are now the proud owners of a spanking brand new empire. Friedman suspects they will be less than
thrilled, and he practically begs the administration to stop lying and come clean with its real goals and aspirations, but what he doesn’t understand is that they can’t stop. Lying is not just a habit with these people. It is a way of life.

One might think, with so much practice at covering up the truth, that they would get better at it: but, no. Instead, they get worse. How else to explain why the British government’s “intelligence dossier” – touted by Colin Powell in his UN speech – is a plagiarized mish-mash of three separate articles, copied practically word-for-word, including one by a California graduate student? As Britain’s Channel 4 reports:

“It gives the impression of being an up to the minute intelligence-based analysis – and Mr Powell was fulsome in his praise…. It outlines the structure of Saddam’s intelligence organizations. But it made familiar reading to Cambridge academic Glen Rangwala. It was copied from an article last September in a small journal: the Middle East Review of International Affairs. It’s author, Ibrahim al-Marashi, a postgraduate student from Monterey in California. Large sections do indeed appear, verbatim.”

But not all: “In several places Downing Street edits the originals to make more sinister reading.”

A hurried, slap-dash effort, that shows just how desperate they are to have their war at any price. Whom do they think they’re kidding?

You, that’s who.

They think you’re too stupid to know, or too decadent to care. But just in case you aren’t, they’re ready for you:

“Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly are doing the people of New York and the people of Iraq a great service by delaying and obstructing the anti-war protest planned for February 15. The longer they delay in granting the protesters a permit, the less time the organizers have to get their turnout organized, and the smaller the crowd is likely to be. And we wouldn’t want to overstate the matter, but, at some level, the smaller the crowd, the more likely that President Bush will proceed with his plans to liberate Iraq. And the more likely, in that case, that the Iraqi people will be freed and the citizens of New York will be rescued from the threat of an Iraqi-aided terrorist attack.”

That’s the editorial voice of the New York Sun talking, a newspaper founded by “unwavering” supporters of Israel who disdain the New York Times as too liberal (and pro-Palestinian) and the New York Post as too lowbrow. Right-wing media mogul Conrad Black pumped $20 million into the paper, and among the other investors are fellow conservative money-bags Roger Hertog, and liberal tycoon Michael Steinhardt, who funded the Progressive Policy Institute and was “last seen in the news writing a letter to President Clinton urging him to pardon disgraced financier Marc Rich,” as Salon put it.

It’s good to see that the editors of the Sun have decided to come out of the closet, so to speak, as open authoritarians. The paper represents a “red-brown alliance” of left and right, united behind a program of open repression. Like all fascists everywhere, they claim to be saving us instead of enslaving us. It is necessary to treat the antiwar protesters the way Ariel Sharon treats the Palestinians, they aver, because the victory of terrorism is the only alternative. But how can the Sun assert this with such eerie confidence?

One could almost imagine they have some inside knowledge – one might even say foreknowledge – of a new terrorist incident. Such certainty evokes the strange case of those five Israelis arrested hours after the World Trade Center was hit, who were observed laughing and celebrating as they watched the twin towers burn. A woman who watched them through binoculars said to ABC News:

“They were like happy, you know … They didn’t look shocked to me. I thought it was very strange.”


Reading the New York Sun, and listening to the rationale for war as expressed by U.S. government officials, from the President on down, one gets the definite impression that the War Party is pining for a second edition of 9/11 just as the Rapturists pine for Armageddeon – and for nearly identical reasons. Their prophecies, after all, would be fulfilled – and they’d have a real good reason to outlaw anti-war demonstrations rather than merely obstruct them. Good enough for New York, at any rate.

Lies and repression – these are the only two arrows in the War Party’s quiver, and they have already shot one. Colin Powell is widely acclaimed in Washington as having scored a bulls-eye, but most of the rest of the country, not to mention the world, regards it as another sort of bull altogether. As war clouds gather on the Middle Eastern horizon, our own skies are darkened by the threat of outright repression: certainly the government, armed with the “Patriot” Act and similar measures, has the power to crack down. But do they have the will?

When it comes to bombing helpless Iraqi civilians, and destroying the equally pathetic Iraqi military, the world’s biggest superpower has no compunctions and no doubt as to the outcome. But taking on their fellow Americans is another proposition entirely. A bully doesn’t pick on someone he knows will fight back. Americans aren’t half as decadent and soft as both our rulers, and our Islamist terrorist enemies, seem to think. The Axis of Authoritarian Evil – the “red-brown alliance” of the New York Sun, the New Republic, and the neoconservative wing of the Republican party – has been on a roll, so far. But the backlash, when it comes, will throw them on the defensive, as Americans rise up to take their country back.


I tried, but I can’t resist pointing out an ad in the online edition of a magazine called “Doublethink.” David Horowitz is looking for someone who combines the moral instincts of Roy Cohn with the investigative skills of Torquemada:

“Frontpage Magazine is looking for subject area specialists to do research for a database. Applicants must have: – A keen eye for detail, – The ability to organize, focus and work independently and efficiently; – Strong research skills – Expertise in one or more of the following subjects: Immigration, national security, anti-American civil liberties groups, and anti-American peace movements. Applicants should send resume as well as a cover letter to:”

Renegade ex-Commies and miscellaneous unemployed Trotskyists are especially encouraged to apply.

– Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].